Thursday, March 16, 2017

Make These Pickled Carrots Today, Enjoy Them Tomorrow...Plus, No Special Equipment Needed!

   It's starting to get to planting time here in Sonoma. We've already gotten the go ahead to put in the potatoes and we're now planning the rest of this years crop. Meanwhile, the TV pilot is all turned in, we're busily writing..and I'm working with the CocoaPlanet people on the Spring menu for their Modern French Cafe and Tasting Room.


   In looking for some tasty French-style nibbles to go on a charcuterie plate or accompany a sandwich, I stumbled across these quick and easy French Pickled Carrots. Now, I love pickles in almost any variety and will pickle nearly anything if you give me half a chance. I love to can, brine jam and jelly.  I also love being able to do this without dragging out all my equipment. And I also love the fact that these pickles are ready to eat the day after you make them...also a plus for those of us who are fans of instant gratification. Pickles that are quick, easy, and don't require a lot of extra tools or a hot water bath? Count me in. The recipe I used here is my tweak of a David Lebovitz recipe so short and sweet, you've got to make these for your Spring and Summer parties.

French Pickled Carrots

Here's What You Need:
1 lb of carrots. (I used rainbow Carrots because I figured they would look gorgeous in a bottle)
1/4 cup of caster sugar
1 and 1/4 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large shallots lightly crushed
1 and 1/2 tsp fennel seed
3 radishes
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
Extra water for par boiling carrots.
1 pint jar and lid

Here's What To Do:
Peel the carrots.

Cut them into sticks that will fit into a pint jar.

Prep the rest of your ingredients. This helps get things done faster.
Peel the shallots and slice the radishes into thick pieces.

Get your fennel seeds ready.

Bring a medium sized pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
Toss int he carrots and boil them for 1 minute.

After 1 minute pour everything in the pot through a strainer basket...

...and run cold water over the carrots to stop the cooking process.

Take the now empty pot and add in the water and cider vinegar...

...salt and sugar...

...fennel seeds, shallots,  and bay leaf.

Toss the uncooked radishes in with the cooling carrots and set them aside.

Bring everything in the pot to a boil again, and when it is boiling turn down the heat and let it simmer for about two minutes. When that's done set it aside.
Meanwhile pack the carrots, and radishes into a cooled and CLEAN pint jar.

Fish out the bay leaf and place it in the jar.
Pour the liquid over everything in the pint jar.

Put the lid on it and place the jar in the fridge when it's cooled a bit.
Let them sit for about 24 hours and then enjoy.
These will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, but they probably won't last that long as they're really, really tasty.

So, there you go, French, quick and easy.
If you like pickles and want to try some Indian Style Pickled Carrots I got this. Once again, no special equipment unless you count the sun as special equipment.

And these Indian Pickled Peppers

So enjoy the spring sunshine and don't forget to Get Pickling!  Coming up next more fun with Spring Vegetables follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Red Pumpkin Is Not A Mid 80's Spy Movie, But It's Tasty, and Vegan.

   Stuff has been crazy mad around here lately between writing and cooking.  Most of what I've been cooking I've not been able to publish here yet because it's for the CocoaPlanet Modern French Cafe here in Sonoma, but I have managed to get back to some home focused Indian dishes...thus, the Red Pumpkin.
   Now, I happen to like pumpkin in any form but to be honest pumpkin isn't always available, and even when it is, all pumpkins are not created culinarilly equal.  I've learned this the hard way several times, and so when I cook "pumpkin" many times I reach for the trusty butternut squash. Every year I grow a LOT of butternut squash. I store it in a cold room in the garage and then finally cube, vacuum seal and freeze it for future use. I am never without butternut squash. So when looking at my vast array of squashes, I turned to one of  the Grande Dames of Indian cuisine the late great Tarla Dalal who has an amazing and very simple recipe for Maharashtiran  style red pumpkin.

   I have to admit, besides being able to use one of my favorite vegetables I love the name Red Pumpkin even if I don't actually have just reminds me of the cheesy Red Sonja movie from the 80s.

Which reminds me of the time I found myself seated on a couch at a producer's house party eating Mexican BBQ and talking to a perfectly normal sort of person who turned out to have been Red Sonja. Go figure. Seems like there was a lot of "Red" themed movies back then... Red Dawn, Red get the drift. What's that got to do with Pumpkin? Nothing... just background. So without further ado here's... red pumpkin/butternut squash easy, simple, totally vegan, and gluten free.

Maharashtiran  Style Red Pumpkin/Butternut Squash

Here's What You Need:
3 cups of cubed butternut squash
2 Tbs vegetable oil (I always use coconut oil)
6 curry leaves (if you don't have them just omit as there's no real substitute)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp chopped shallot
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp kashmiri chili
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:
Get your spices together.

 Chop the shallot.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet or kadhai.

When the oil is hot add in the mustard, curry leaves, and cumin seeds.

When the mustard seeds start to pop and cumin seeds start to toast  (this happens fast so be prepared) add in the shallot.
Saute for about 30 seconds.

Add the squash cubes...

...turmeric, kashmiri chili powder, garam masala and salt.

Add in  1/2 cup of water.

Stir everything together well, and put a lid on things.

Let everything cook for about 12 minutes.

Check the vegetable every now and then to make sure nothing is sticking or burning.
When it's cooked through, serve it up garnished with the chopped cilantro.

All you need with this for a perfect lunch is some spiced Basmati rice and a roti or two and you are golden! All it takes is about 30 minutes from start to finish and that in my opinion makes it the perfect working weekday meal.

Coming up next...more vegetables of course and there always has to be something sweet. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori . Stay flipping!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Take Advantage of Winter Fruit, Crumble Baby, Crumble.

   It all started with V-Day. I cannot stand forced holidays; I consider Valentines and New Years Eve to be two of those for starters. Don't get me wrong. I love a good time. I just don't like it when society makes me feel compelled to have a good time. I hate the Death Race 2017 type running for restaurant reservations, the right table, (hell any table) at the right time (dinner at 10:30? I think not) or even finding a place in our small town that isn't already booked waaaaay up. You see one of the side effects of living in a tourist town is not only does one have to worry about how to spend ones' holiday, one also has to worry about all the other people who have flooded into town to spend their holiday in Wine Country. There's nothing romantic about trying to choke down a prixe fixe meal while all the other celebrants who are waiting for you to finish, stand and stare and shift their weight around and sigh.

   So, about two years ago we decided the heck with that. We'll dine in for Valentines Day. I'll cook something special, we'll watch a movie that's the way to go. So we did that and it was soooooo much more relaxing, that it's now how we like to roll on those Must Celebrate Holidays. This year I had no trouble figuring out the appetizer and entree course, salad is salad but what for dessert?

   Since I've been working helping develop the menu for CocoaPlanet I've been cooking up a storm and now have a large collection of potential desserts to draw on. I wanted something warm and homey and also simple. We've been working hard around here the last couple of months, and finally have the pilot script done, turned into the producers and director and out of our hair... for now. I'm also nearly recovered from the surgery I had a couple of weeks ago as soon as the script was finished... so even thought I wanted to, I wasn't about to make a Croque Embouche.

After all, I'm not that nuts! I decided to make the perfect homey sort of dessert. The dessert that Alan loves to order any time he finds it on a menu, a Winter Fruit Crumble. Simple , tasty, and it bakes in the oven while the main course is being eaten. Can't beat that. If you have any bags of frozen cranberries left hanging around from Christmas or's the time to look like a smarty pants and use them. Otherwise, grab some apples, pears, berries and you've got a party, a crumble party.

Winter Fruit Crumble

Here's What You Need: 
1 cups frozen cranberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 Braeburn apples (or any other seasonal apple) peeled, cored, and cut into pieces
2 Bartlett pears peeled,cored, and cut into pieces
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 /2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 Tbs cornstarch

For The Topping:
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup flour (regular or gluten free)
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup sugar

Here's What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the fruit together.

Add in the sugar and cornstarch.

Stir everything around coating the fruit well.

Grease individual ramekins or one 2 quart baking dish with butter.

Put the fruit into the ramekins or baking dish.

I halved this recipe since it was just the two of us.

Now for the topping, cut the softened butter into bite sized pieces.

In a separate bowl mix together the rolled oats, the sugar, flour, and salt.
Crumble the butter pieces into the rolled oats, flour, and sugar.

Mix it all together well into crumbly bits and sprinkle the crumbly topping onto the fruit tarts.

Place the baking dish or ramekins on a cookie sheet and place into the middle rack of the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes , or until the juices are bubbling and the top is golden. Let it cool for a bit before serving it up.
You can top it with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or since it was V-Day, I made some vanilla bean ice cream.

Dig in...and take your time. Savor and one is waiting for your table.

   Coming up next, back to seasonal Indian food, what grows around, gets served. Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori


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